When groups get together to study the Bible (especially for the first couple of times), why not start with something other than "turn in your Bible to the book of…"? The goal should always be twofold: Get people talking and help them get to know each other better. Consider using one of these fun icebreakers. They will work with groups of all ages.
1. How would you change the world?
This will engage people's imaginations and help them share their passion. Ask the question, "How would you use $1 million to change the world?" After everyone has had a chance to share, ask the same question about $100 and then about $1,000.
2. Favorite-show icebreakers
Pick a television show or movie like "Downton Abbey" that has captured the imaginations of people of all ages. Invite people to imagine what it would be like to be one of the characters such as Lord or Lady Grantham, Anna or Carson. Come up with simple questions like, "If you were a British lord or lady, what would you like staff to do that you currently do? What would you still want to handle yourself?"
If British aristocracy isn't your groups' cup of tea, create icebreaker questions for another show like "CSI" or "Dancing with the Stars" that might be especially popular with them.
3. Visual spirituality
This is a great idea for groups that are ready to go deep. It also takes a little preparation. Gather photographs of various subjects. Include people, things and places. Raid your photo albums or take some scissors to the magazines on your coffee table. Make sure you have several more pictures than the number of people in the group. When you are ready for the discussion to begin, lay the pictures on a table or a surface big enough for everyone to get around. Ask people to walk around and take the picture that best describes/captures their experience of faith/spirituality. After everyone has selected a picture, go around the room and have each person share.
4. Random facts quiz
This is a lot of fun and helps the group develop a better understanding of who people are and are not. Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen and ask them to write a funny/random fact about themselves. Then, ask them to write something that is false. After everyone is finished, have the first person read the two statements. Ask the group to vote on the statement they think is true. After the truth is revealed, continue to the next person's statements.
5. Tell us a story
The "favorite TV show" icebreaker above is often used to introduce discussion, however, instead of asking stock questions about TV, food or fashion, delve deeper and ask:
- What is your favorite childhood memory or story?
- What was the best or worst thing that happened to you this weekend?
- What's the kindest act you have ever seen someone do?
- What are you most talented at doing?
- If you were given 24 hours to live, what would you do?
- Who was your favorite teacher and why?
- Who was your hero when you were a child, and what did you do to be like them?
- Name a turning point in your life that makes you smile/cry.
6. This picture is not to scale.
Here's a way to engage people who like to be creative. Give everyone a pencil and piece of paper and ask them to draw a caricature of themselves that will help describe who they are. They might add a golf club if they love to golf or a convertible if they drive a convertible. The twist is that they are to make the sizes of the different things in the picture reflect their importance with the largest being the most important and the smallest the least. After several minutes, share the masterpieces. Be certain everyone has a moment to share.
7. This week in Facebook
Instead of treating the smartphones in everyone's hand as a distraction, use them to get people talking. Ask everyone to pull out their smartphone and find their latest favorite picture, video or story on their social network of choice. (It doesn't have to be theirs. It might be a friend or family member's.) Have everyone share why it piques their interest.